Himachal Pradesh mulls legalising cannabis cultivation: Here's why

Cannabis and its derivatives are banned in India under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985
Last Updated 23 March 2021, 06:52 IST

While the use of cannabis has sparked a debate globally, its legalisation in India, for cultivation nonetheless, has also raised eyebrows.

Announcing the state budget last week, Himachal Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said that the state government is coming up with a policy to allow controlled cultivation of hemp or cannabis in the state.

What does that mean for people? Not much because the state wants to legalise the commercial cultivation of cannabis for non-recreational uses such as making medicines and fabrics.

How is cannabis used for cultivation?

Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for industrial use. It can be used to make a wide range of products. In some parts of Himachal, it has been traditionally used to make footwear, ropes, mats, food items, etc.

Also read: UN reclassifies cannabis as a less dangerous drug

During his budget speech, Thakur said that earlier, they used to consume a dish prepared from cannabis during winter to keep themselves warm and energetic. He added that since Himachal produces top-quality cannabis, the seeds of the plant can be used to make paint, biofuel and ink. The prospect of a flourishing hemp industry, which can boost the state economically, has prompted Himachal to go for hemp cultivation.

Isn't cannabis banned in india?

Cannabis and its derivatives are banned in India under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985. Cannabis is a generic name, according to the WHO, for a range of preparations of the cannabis sativa plant. Marijuana, a Mexican word, is a frequently used name for products made from Cannabis’s leaves or other parts.

Read more: Amid flak, Goa ministers show tentative approach on legal cultivation of cannabis

The NDPS Act strictly regulates the cannabis plant and its products. Charas is separately mentioned as a regulated substance under the law. Charas is a resin extracted from the cannabis plant. Hashish or hash is another name for charas. Cannabis oil or hashish oil is also regulated in India.

On December 2 last year, the United Nations Commission for Narcotic Drugs reclassified cannabis as a less dangerous drug. The decision removes it from the Schedule IV category, which lists addictive opioids like heroin. India was one of the 27 countries that voted in favour of the rescheduling.

Also read: From gum to gummies, Beau Wrigley takes pot producer Parallel public

Marijuana for medical use has exploded in recent years and products containing cannabis derivatives like cannabidiol or CBD, a nonintoxicating compound, have flooded the wellness industry. Cowen, an investment and financial services company, estimates that the CBD industry in the United States will be worth $16 billion by 2025.

Some research has suggested that CBD can protect the nervous system and provide relief from seizures, pain, anxiety and inflammation. The list of CBD-infused products — including creams, serums, soda water and juice — is also expanding rapidly.

Is this legal elsewhere in India?

Cannabis cultivation is done in a controlled manner in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh while Manipur, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are considering it.

(Published 23 March 2021, 04:42 IST)

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